Do These 10 DIY Beauty Products Actually Work?
Embittered by the amount of money I spend on beauty products laden with harsh chemicals, I decided to experiment with natural, at-home skin, hair and body care recipes. Some of these concoctions felt a little eccentric, but I’ve definitely done much crazier things than wash my hair with avocados.
Here are 10 DIY beauty projects I created from household products, and what I learned from my experiments.
1. Coconut oil
I was skeptical about making the transition from lotion to oil at first, but many store-bought lotions contain carcinogenic chemicals that can dry out or irritate your skin. Coconut products boast a variety of health benefits, including acting as a natural sunscreen and replenishing your body with nutrients and natural oils. Coconut oil is also good for stretch marks.
When I slathered coconut oil on my body, it felt a little greasy at first, especially when going out in the sticky New York heat. After a few days, though, I noticed my skin looked noticeably healthier and felt softer than a baby seal’s. You can also use coconut oil on your hair as a leave-in conditioner.
2. Coffee face cleanser
- 3 tablespoons coffee grounds (new, if possible)
- 1 tablespoon natural oil of your choice: olive, grape seed, coconut, or almond
If you make coffee every morning, you can use your leftover coffee grounds to make face wash. Rubbing coffee grounds on your face isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Caffeine is in a variety of skin and hair care products, as some claim it helps fight cellulite, and it works as a natural exfoliant. I mixed my old coffee grounds with olive oil for face wash, which made my skin too oily. The next day I mixed the grounds with my normal facial cleanser, and it was fine. Many sources extol mixing coffee into your regular shampoos, conditioners and skincare products, but I didn’t feel like washing coffee grounds out of my hair.
3. Sunflower seed oil face cleanser
- Oily skin: Try a blend of 30% castor oil to 70% sunflower seed oil
- Balanced skin: Try a blend of 20% castor oil to 80% sunflower seed oil
- Dry skin: Try a blend of 10% castor oil to 90% sunflower seed oil
I was worried this would make me break out, but so many websites swear that cleaning your face with a mixture of household oils will make you glow like a pregnant lady. Many face wash formulas have some of the same chemicals as grease-cutting dish soap, which can dry out your skin. There are three formulas for oily, balanced and dry skin, though you can tinker with your own formula. I tried the “balanced” skin recipe for a few days, which made my skin a little too oily, so I gave up and switched back to regular soap.
4. Brown sugar exfoliator
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- coconut oil (optional)
You can make this exfoliating body wash from ingredients you probably already own. Rubbing honey and sugar all over your limbs can be a little sticky, but it washes off without leaving any residue, and since honey is a natural humectant, it can retain moisture in the skin more easily. If you have oily skin, this might not be for you. After scrubbing it off, my skin felt noticeably softer, and I smelled delicious!
5. Apple cider vinegar shampoo
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
They say you can use vinegar to clean just about anything from countertops to hair follicles, and you can save money on shampoo if you can stand the scent. Though I mainly use organic shampoos, many hair products contain toxins such as sodium laureth sulfate, which is a powerful detergent, and polysorbates that disrupt the scalp’s natural pH. Lathering my hair with vinegar definitely worked the same as shampoo, but I hated the smell. If you want to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in your shampoo, you can also try a coconut milk and castile soap recipe.
6. Egg white face mask
There’s something a little primitive about rubbing a chicken embryo on your face, but eggs are filled with nutrients such as riboflavin and magnesium that may help fight wrinkles (though only if you eat them). After separating the yolk from the egg whites, I cooked the yolk and smeared my face with the rest of the egg whites. The mask made my skin look weirdly tight, glossy and almost doll-like. After I rinsed it off I noticed my skin looked brighter and more youthful.
7. Olive oil and honey conditioner
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
This one made my hair smell like a frying pan and I had to wash it twice afterward to avoid looking greasy. After I washed it out, though, my hair did feel pretty soft and weightless. I might substitute coconut oil or vitamin E oil instead of extra-virgin olive oil next time, because I truly hate the smell of olive oil. If you have dry, wavy or curly hair like I do, it’s a good way to retain moisture, but if your hair is on the oily side, you might want to try using less oil in your at-home mixture.
8. Natural mascara remover
- 1 tbsp witch hazel
- 1 tbsp olive oil
I spend so much money on makeup remover wipes, which in addition to containing some problematic chemicals such as titanium dioxide, are kind of wasteful for the environment. The skin around your eyes is incredibly sensitive and an area that is the first to show signs of aging. Many home remedies involve a mix of different oils such as jojoba oil or grapeseed oil to remove makeup that won’t desiccate the skin around your eyes. Witch hazel is used for reducing inflammation, varicose veins, eye bags, chicken pox, and general blemishes, but it stung my eyes so I would avoid mixing it with eye beauty products.
9. Avocado hair mask
- 1 avocado
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Avocados have long been hailed as a superfood, known for having age-reversing effects on skin, lowering cholesterol and helping to aid in the treatment of diabetes. They can also rejuvenate your hair because they contain nutrients that fight dandruff and give you shiny hair. I put the avocado mixture in my hair and let it sit for 15 minutes, which I’ll admit felt kind of gross, and then washed my hair clean. It was a little annoying getting all of the avocado chunks out of my hair, but it left my hair feeling silky and shiny.
10. Homemade shaving cream
- 2/3 cup shea nut oil or shea butter
- 2/3 coconut oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oils/oil blend
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- Contents of 2 vitamin E capsules (optional)
By conservative estimates the average woman who shaves will spend $3,848 on shaving needs throughout her life, mostly on shaving cream. Many shaving creams such as Skintimate contain moderately toxic ingredients such as Tocopheryl Acetate that can irritate your skin. This recipe was a little more involved, but it was definitely worth the effort. I have sensitive skin and many shaving creams irritate my skin. This homemade shaving cream made my legs smell like a tropical sunrise.
I don’t plan on adopting a completely natural beauty regimen, mostly because it takes time, energy and the will for adventure that I just don’t possess. However, this foray into DIY beauty care has made me think more about avoiding chemicals that are in certain products and made me realize I can save money by cutting down on unnecessary beauty products.